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It has often been said “a picture speaks a thousand words.” So when it comes to the US and UK’s invasion and occupation of Iraq, the picture that history will remember and which will define humanity’s view towards this event, will be those of the detainees of Abu Ghraib.
No surprise that even after 5 years of occupation, reports of abuse still appear regularly in the media. A recent publication of a report from the Massachusetts-based Physicians for Human Rights concluded, after a two-day clinical evaluations of 11 former detainees who had been held at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay and in Afghanistan, that they had been tortured by the US military despite never being charged with crimes.
In a 121-page report, the doctors’ group said that it uncovered medical evidence of torture, including beatings, electric shock, sleep deprivation, sexual humiliation, sodomy and scores of other abuses. Retired U.S. Major Gen. Antonio Taguba, who led the Army’s investigation into the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal in 2003 said “There is no longer any doubt that the current administration committed war crimes. The only question is whether those who ordered torture will be held to account.”
But it was not only the Americans who engaged in the torture of prisoners. Just a week after the MoD payed out £3 million in compensation to the family of Baha Moussa who was murdered by British soldiers, the Daily Mail reported on Monday that eleven Iraqi civilians are now suing the MoD for being tortured and abused by British soldiers, including the sexual humiliation of a teenage boy.
“They ordered us to take off our clothes by gesturing to us to do so,” 19-year-old Hassan said, recalling his horrific experience of being abused by British soldiers at Camp Breadbasket in the southern city of Basra. “When we refused they continued beating us, so we had to follow their orders.” Hassan, who was 14 at the time of the abuses in May 2003, said British soldiers had forced him to carry out sexual acts on a male friend. “They made us sit on each other’s laps. They were enjoying humiliating and abusing us. I wished I was dead at this moment.”
In a further 10 cases, it was claimed that Iraqis suffered severe beatings including being kicked in the face, beatings with a military car aerial, being forced to run while carrying various heavy objects including an iron cage with other Iraqis inside it and being strung up by a fork lift truck.
Despite this bad press, Western politicians from both current administrations and potential future ones continue to talk the politics of war, invasion and occupation under the guise of national security. Gordon Brown’s government continue to support the policy of a continuing British occupation of Iraq and has increased troop deployment in Afghanistan. Barack Obama, who has campaigned for a withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, has recently re-iterated his view that US forces should be redeployed to Afghanistan and Pakistan, highlighting that although Obama speaks of domestic political change, US foreign policy under his potential leadership looks set to remain upon its current colonial occupation of the Muslim world. So much for Barack Obama’s so called Muslim heritage!
The issue at hand is that the West is devoid of a way to govern the world with justice and equity and uses its current ascendancy to dominate and subjugate others in order to secure resources for its citizens. This is in contrast to the period of Islamic ascendancy under the Khilafah, where the expansion of the Islamic state was not accompanied by subjugation and exploitation of other peoples but rather characterised by justice, equity and the distribution of resources to guarantee high living standards for all.
Consequently, many different peoples embraced the Islamic faith and their descendants today are spread throughout the globe. In contrast, the West and its way of life has been categorically rejected by the Iraqis, Afghanis and the vast majority of the Muslims living in the Muslim world and the West alike.
Torture and abuse will be the West’s defining legacy for Iraq